'Victory' for union in row over suspended drug-test teacher
A UNION is claiming victory after a suspension was lifted on a teacher at a Derbyshire school who refused a random drug test.
Eleven members of the National Union of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers went on strike for three days this week after a colleague at the private Alderwasley Hall School, near Belper, was suspended for refusing to be tested for drugs.
But, according to the union, the school has now reversed this action.
Dave Wilkinson, NASUWT national executive member, said the suspension on the teacher had been lifted.
He said: "On Wednesday evening we found out this had happened. We are still taking strike action against the company's policy on random drug tests.
"We believe it's an invasion of privacy. Teachers are called out of class and have to give a urine or breath sample for no reason and without any indication they may be under the influence of drugs."
The drugs-testing policy has been imposed by the owner of the school.
Senad, a company based in Vernon Gate, Derby, has a portfolio of specialist schools and colleges in England and Wales offering academic and vocational programmes to youngsters aged between five and 19 years with special, educational and complex care needs.
Senad introduced the drug-testing policy in 2009, sparking outrage from the NASUWT, whose members have been fighting it ever since
The union believes that the selection of the Alderwasley Hall teacher for a random drug test two weeks ago was the first time this had happened in England.
The move sparked the announcement of five days of strikes by the school's NASUWT members, who walked out for three days this week, from Tuesday until yesterday.
Two more strike days are scheduled for December 12 and 13.
Mick Lyons, national senior vice president of NASUWT, joined the striking teachers outside Senad's offices in Vernon Gate, yesterday.
He said: "I'm here to support colleagues who are enduring this totally unwarranted intrusion of privacy.
"We know of no other educational provider that carries out tests like this. We have taken legal advice and believe it is illegal.
"I can't see the point of people dragging people out of lessons to do this. We are pleased the member of staff who was suspended has been reinstated.
"Senad has point-blank refused to communicate with us since 2009 when it introduced this policy."
No one from the school or Senad responded to the Derby Telegraph's requests for a comment.